Maybe Ol’ Dirty Bastard was tooting his ol’ dirty horn when he said “As I create / rhymes good as a Tastykake makes” in Brooklyn Zoo, but he wasn’t wrong about the last bit. The scrappy, East Coast version of Hostess, Tastykakes has at least one up on the Company With The Mostest by continuing to exist.
That’s a poor distinction, however, considering the troubles Tasty Baking Company has had over the years, but we’ll get to that. The classic Tastykake product, in my mind, is without a doubt the Kandy Kake, otherwise known as Tandy Kake. Chocolate-covered peanut butter mini-cakes, the snack was a staple in my lunchbox throughout my primary education. That said, I also blame some part of my sweet tooth (which has since expanded and sort of become a sweet mouth) on the TBC’s individual, hand-sized pies. I’m a sucker for lemon filling.
TBC has been suffering from hard times for a while — since the recession in the late 2000’s, their profits had been dipping, which combined with the unsteady management from a new CEO, led to their vulnerability to being purchased by a Georgia-based company in 2011. This CEO, a local named Charlie Pizzi, acquired publicly subsidized funding to build a state-of-the-art factory. The factory ran into troubles in pipeline manufacturing and distribution, leading to that aforementioned takeover. That said, Tastykakes remain a staple of Philadelphia cuisine.
For the purposes of this blog, I purchased the smallest size of Tandykakes I could — which, unfortunately, was still a six-pack, and a lemon pie. My local Acme has had an aisle endcap exclusively devoted to Tastykake for as long as I can remember, so it was alluringly convenient and horribly tempting to buy even more reasonably priced sweets. Nothing was said, as I waited in the checkout line with an armful of Tastykake and a bagged salad. What was there to be said?
They’re sickeningly sweet, but the offset of chocolate and peanut butter meshed well with the fluffy vanilla cake (Kake?), and soon enough I’d polished off both of them. The resulting sugar rush allowed me to clean my room, do my taxes, and build a desk from Ikea. It was only when I was done that my gaze fell upon the remaining snacks. “For the fans,” I murmured to myself, as I reached for the lemon pie, and it’s thereabouts that my memory cuts out. The next morning, I wake up on the floor of my living room, wrappers festooned about me like some sort of diabetic confetti.
Cons: But at what cost?